Passage To India: Auto Rickshaw Trash Trucks, Wet Dust, Pigeon Soul Removed


Walking the dog is the worst. There’s no place to walk the dog. Well, there’s no place to walk him if you want to be free from street dogs. I’m not one to fear a dog or two that I don’t know. I can read their tales, their ears, their eyes. But when suddenly out of nowhere four or five dogs appear that look like they haven’t eaten in weeks, that’s when I, Tommi, the great and comfortable professional dog sitter (pseudo master of everything that is worst in this krapp world), gets a bit afeard. Oddly (or not) some little kid did say to me, after he finished admiring Beckett, the killer pug, in the glory of his broken English, that all I needed to do to fend off the street dogs was to carry a stick around with me. Actually, I thought about carrying a torch around with me. That way I could not only fend off the dogs of Karnataka but I might even be able to fend off a zombie or three. §Speaking of the end of the fucking world. How the hell did I get here? And don’t get me wrong, dearest worst-reader, I’m not complaining about India. I like India. I like the way the people smile at me after I smile at them first. I also like the way they play street music and then beg for money and then want to put a red dot on my forehead. But that’s kinda where I draw the line. It’s not that I’m against red dots. They look good–on some women. It’s the whole religious thing that gets to me. Being a cynical anti-theist will have that effect. Or? §After seven weeks in India it finally rained. I was watching (i.e. studying the writing of) Boston Legal when I heard the drops falling on the big palm leaves outside my balcony. We’re on the fourth floor of a twenty story building. Until our new place is finished, we’re living temporarily in a furnished three bedroom apartment. Luckily it’s got A/C and a lots of ceiling fans. During the day I try to run the ceiling fans–being the energy conscious person I am. But at night we have to run the A/C. The only other problem is we can’t control the A/C fan. Nomatter. §I’ve actually spent an afternoon or three just staring at the tops of the trees that are directly in front of my balcony. How often do you get to stare at the tops of trees? Obviously they’re planted and not natural–but they fit well with the artificialness of the building. I mean. We’re pretty much–if one goes by western standards–right in the middle of a slum. Put another way: I have a treetop view from within an oasis overlooking a slum. With that mind, I appreciate more and more why Bangelore is called The Garden City. I would only append that with Garden Slum City. Also. If it wasn’t for the blazing heat of the season–which, btw, everyone here attributes to global warming–this would be a stunning slum. Wait. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ranting on India–yet. I never expected to move here and then live in anything like The West. But I have to admit that I’m a bit taken aback by the level of depravity that is so blatant in this city. It is so damn filthy that I’m always looking out for trash trucks. I used to get a kick out of trash trucks when I was a kid. I knew them as rear loaders, side-loaders, grapple trucks. I knew the men that worked those truck (not personally, of course). I watched as neighbours would give the trash-men on a hot day a six pack of cold beer but one of the men, not the driver, refrained from drinking. They guzzled down the beer like it was water and threw the empty bottles right int the back of their truck. I thought that was so COOL. I later learned the guy that didn’t drink a beer was muslim. I think was twelve at the time. Yeah, I was twelve when I learned what a Muslim was. §In Bangelore, India, I’ve only seen one trash truck–and I’m not sure calling it that is appropriate. It was/is a converted/modified auto rickshaw aka tuk-tuk vehicle. The rear cabin had been removed and the vehicle was lengthened and a small truck bed with high walls had been inserted. There were three men in the truck. There was a driver, someone sleeping on a pile of trash in the truck bed and a third man hanging on to the side who would spring from the vehicle to grab trash from the side of the road and then throw it in the back of the truck–underneath the sleeping man. Oddly (or not) most of the trash on the side of the road would not be picked up. They seemed to only take certain things from the pile. Perhaps during another moment of observation I’ll take heed to know how they sorted their catch. Till then, I’ll remain confused–as ever. The rest of the trash, though, remained and with every walk of my dog I walked by that remaining trash and thought: what a fucking slum. Which brings this post almost full circle. §The first thing I noticed after it rained Sunday night for about an hour was that the dust in the air had not washed away. Isn’t that what rain is supposed to do? Obviously a measly hours worth of rain isn’t enough to clean the city but at least it could get rid of some of the dust. The next morning, as I walked Beckett, the killer pug, I took special notice of some wet spots that hadn’t yet evaporated. I called them my spots of wet dust. §There was something else during that odd night of rain. While I watched the precipitation fall in the night, lit by random street lights and the glow of the high-rise we lived in, there was a brief flash of light in the near distance. I saw the flash from the corner of my left eye. I went to the edge of the balcony and tried to focus on the distance, waiting for the thunder to arrive. But there was no thunder. My better half didn’t see the flash and she said that it rarely thunderstorms in Bangelore. “Are you sure it was lightening,” she asked. No, I wasn’t sure. The next morning after Beckett and I returned to the gated grounds of our apartment complex, I walked around to the back of the building, behind the pool. On the ground I saw the empty cadaver of a pigeon. Both Beckett and I shared an anti-theist prayer for the poor animal that probably got caught in some electrical wires the night before as it was confused by the rain. In my life-time this was the third animal I had seen killed by electrical wires. The first was a squirrel that literally exploded as it attempted to cross a high wire electrical junction box. The second was a pheasant that thought it had gotten away from a hunter’s bad aim. As the pheasant banked right avoiding the spread of the twelve gauge, its wings clipped multiple electric wires at the edge of the field. As the animal tried to recover it got more and more tangled in the wires. Eventually the bird began to cook in the wires and I even remember seeing a drop of blood fall from its tortured mouth/beak. My eyes were so good then. I’ll never forget the hunter making remarks about the animal flying right into the wires because he was as stupid as jujubes. When I tried to get the other hunters to help me free the dead animal from the wires they all just laughed. They thought it appropriate the animal remain. I spent hours trying to get that pheasant down from the wires. I eventually succeeded. §And so are the thoughts stirred by wet dust, tuk-tuk trash trucks and dead pigeons. Thanks for your patience, dear worst-reader.
Rant on.